Curb the supply

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 1999

From staff reports

The City Council is correct to seriously consider requests by local anti-smoking forces.

Tuesday, September 28, 1999

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The City Council is correct to seriously consider requests by local anti-smoking forces.

After careful consideration during a pending workshop, the council should take action to make access to tobacco more difficult for youths.

Members of the local Stop Teen Access to Tobacco Committee last night told council members that the city’s ordinance regarding tobacco does not meet state requirements.

Specifically, the state requires compliance checks, but local police no longer do them because the checks are not included in a city ordinance.

During compliance checks, youths working undercover with police attempt to buy tobacco products from retailers; success can result in criminal penalties for the retailer and workers, an incentive for stores to properly train employees.

Indeed, the last round of compliance checks found that no retailer sold tobacco to the undercover minor; during the first police check, 11 of 17 retailers sold tobacco to a minor.

Still, the lack of recent compliance checks could change that.

And, there is little question that teen-agers are still getting tobacco somewhere, and smoking it.

It seems likely that the city will bring its ordinance into compliance, after which police will be able to resume their compliance checks.

A key question may be one of cost; the state requires the checks, but does not pay for them, a common predicament for local governments.

The likely solution will be to increase tobacco license fees to compensate, at least in part, for the stings.

Regardless, the fact remains that tobacco is an illegal product for those under age 18. Enforcing the law is not only required, but the right thing to do.